How to Close the IT Talent Gap

How do you build your future workforce? Experts agree that there is a talent shortage of specialized technology workers who are core to IT and the business. But where is that gap at your company? Learning how to do a skills analysis of your IT teams can put you ahead of the talent curve.

Tue, June 25, 2013
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Where to Begin a Skills Analysis

The first step, according to Rachel Russell, director of marketing at TEKsystems, is to understand the business and have a clear strategy of what your IT organization and skill sets needs to look like in the future:

"Work out a plan, partnering with HR or companies like TEKsystems to ask what kind of skills, experience and bandwidth are required to get there," says Russell. "Then you work backwards from there. For example, these are the skills experience and bandwidth required, now let's do an inventory of our current staff to figure out where they rank. There are a variety of things you can try and I recommend doing as many of them as time and budgets will allow. They can include manager assessments of their teams, self-assessments, you can give tests, inventory employees past experiences and you can look through the skills on resumes, etc."

In regards to skills analysis, Garrison approaches IT management with the following four questions:

  • How has the role of IT changed "In the Business"?
  • What skills do you need today and into the future in order for your IT employees to be successful "in the business"?
  • What are the biggest skill gaps you have on your teams?
  • What are you doing to help close those gaps in order to set your people up for success?

"We need to see what the state of the union is, what are the things that your people are the most competent in today, what are their weaknesses or gaps. That gives us the data to pick a priority list of the things that need to be addressed. We can then build a learning plan out for the next 18-24 months and start closing that gap," says Garrison.

At Redwing, Joe Topinka CIO of Red Wing Shoes started by opening a dialogue with HR and explaining the importance of the IT skills analysis. This paved the way to get their leadership team on board. "My goal was to move the needle on engagement so what we did was to create a skills assessment and then built a training program around that," says Topinka.

Do I Need Help?

Many times, managers or leadership teams will do skills assessments on their own, as was the case with Guerrier and Toyota. Leaders start out at a high level and usually work with team leaders to develop a series of skills that they need in order to be successful.

They typically use tools like Excel and Word or Survey Monkey to create surveys, which they send out to their teams to rank their level of confidence with this variety of topics in either typically a three- or five-point scale depending on what they want to measure.

"Can companies do it on their own? Absolutely. Does it take a lot of time to plan and do it right? Absolutely," says Garrison. The benefits of using a third-party company, according to Garrison, is that the skills gaps, once identified, are tied directly back to educational assets that will allow employees to close the gap quickly.

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